KENT’S South African run-machine Martin van Jaarsveld hopes to start churning out the tons this week as he completes his comeback from adislocated shoulder.
The 34-year-old right-hander described the injury as the most serious and painful of his career, yet he elected to go against the initial advice of a surgeon by opting to strengthen his left shoulder through exercise and physiotherapy alone. After his umpteenth net session of pre-season training, vanJaarsveld could at last afford to smile in the knowledge that his long road to recovery was almost at an end.
Taking up the story, van Jaarsveld said: "When this injury happened I could barely stand up it was so painful. They brought a stretcher on to carry me off, but I said to myself; there’s no way I’m going to be carried off a cricket field on a stretcher, and I managed to walk off.
"I picked up the injury a couple of months back, it was a Pro20 game for Titans against the Eagles I was at mid-wicket when I dived to stop a ball and landed really badly.
"The shoulder ripped out as my arm slid underneath me and I knew immediately it was a bad one. Had you told me a couple of months back that I’d be fit to start the season with Kent, well I and a lot of other blokes would not have believed you, but I’m happy to say I am.
"I went to see a specialist the next morning and he wanted to operate there and then, that would have meant I’d be out for six months and the majority of the season with Kent.
"I decided to go for a second opinion from the ’gun doctor’ for shoulder injuries in South Africa. He reckoned there were two slight tears, tendon wise, and said surgery was an option but that we could try and strengthen it through physiotherapy. I believe now that we’ve made the right decision.
"I don’t feel it that much when I’m batting, the challenge will come when we’re in the field and I may have to put a dive in. I will try and take it easy at the start though and maybe take first slip instead of second."
’Jaarra’ – as he is universally known – has passed 1,000 runs for five seasons and has already amassed 16 centuries in his four summers at St Lawrence. The good news is, he sees no reason why he should be missing out in 2009.
He added: "I’ve tried the shoulder out in the Northants game and then the two matches down at Sussex and see how we go from there.
"I was really down in the dumps when that first doctor told me I’d be out for six months, but I’ve trained hard to get where we are at now. It’s a case of keeping it strong from here on and if I can, then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t do really well.
"We know there have been a lot of changes at Kent in the winter and that times are hard. But we are a professional team and we have a good squad.
"We’ve still got a great chance of getting us back there into the top flight in the championship and pressing hard for some one-day trophies again.
"It was a hammer blow to be relegated last season, it came all the way from left field and no one really saw it coming. But what’s done cannot be undone, we just have to get our heads down as a squad and make sure we get ourselves back up there."
Martin van Jaarsveld was talking with Mark Pennell
Picture by Anthony Roberts of ARPICS